Becoming Holy

Seven Sorrows of Mary

Jordan Hawaii 2012! 109Have you heard about the Seven Sorrows of Mary Rosary?  I hadn’t until I read the book, “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilabagiza.  This incredible autobiography chronicles the life of Immaculee and her family, most of whom were killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994.  Immaculee survives, hiding in a cramped bathroom with seven other women for over 90 days.  Her story of survival and of ultimate forgiveness is powerful.  Her website, http://www.immaculee.com shares a bit more about her and other books she has written.  I ordered “Our Lady of Kibeho” and the Seven sorrows Rosary both available on her site.  

At the time I ordered the rosary and book, we were in the midst of packing up our household in order to move. The books and rosary were tucked away and I did not begin to pray this new found devotion. These remained stored away for the months it took to sell our home, the time spent in our rental as our home was being built and finally in the storage room waiting to be unpacked. In the mean time, Christmas was upon us. I bought tickets from our last parish for the annual Christmas raffle.  I sent money for a friend to buy tickets to win one of Eleanor’s beautiful afghans and for one of John’s rosaries.  The year before, I’d been blessed to win both an afghan AND a rosary and thought, “Why not try again?” Each of my friends are skilled craftsmen and I love to support the Christmas raffle.  I was pleasantly surprised in January to hear from our dear friend, Joe.  I hadn’t won the afghan, but I HAD won the rosary.  It turns out, it was a set of three rosaries:  one to hang in the car, one traditional rosary and one Seven Sorrows of Mary Rosary~each made of gorgeous black hematite. I was so excited and couldn’t help but think that Mary was drawing me to this devotion.  

The Seven Sorrows of Mary are:

  • The Prophecy of Simeon
  • The flight into Egypt
  • Jesus is lost in the Temple
  • Mary meets Jesus on the road to Calvary
  • The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus
  • Jesus is taken down from the Cross
  • Jesus is laid in the Tomb

A bit of meditation on any one of these sorrows and one can imagine the pain in Mary’s heart.  These sorrows connect Mary with each of us.  A “Sorrows list” in today’s society might read like this:

  • Prenatal Diagnosis of Disabiity
  • Christians forced to flee Holy Land
  • Missing Child
  • Son/Daughter facing terminal illness
  • Child on Death Row
  • Funerals
  • Burials

When Jesus took on our humanity, He took it ALL on.  The joys.  The sorrows.  The sufferings.  The heartache.  Mary walked this road with Jesus from start to finish.  She did it beautifully with complete acceptance.  We read in the Bible of the trials and struggles of the Apostles~Peter’s Denial, Thomas’ doubt, James’ and John’s desire for positioning.  I find it interesting that nowhere do we find a similar “fault or failing” in the Blessed Mother. This is a testimony to her complete “fiat.”  When she answered the Angel Gabriel, “Be it done to me according to thy Word,” she meant it. The Seven Sorrows Devotion is a window into the life of Jesus and Mary.  

The Seven Sorrows Devotion consists of an opening prayer, Act of Contrition and then seven sorrows “mysteries” of one Our Father and seven Hail Mary’s.  Our Lady promises that those who practice this devotion will be made aware of their sins and be given the grace to overcome them.  Tuesdays and Fridays are the days suggested for praying this devotion. My friend, Mike, has offered to make Seven Sorrows Rosaries for me and for those interested in this devotion.  Please let me know if you are interested or would like to learn more about this.  Walking through sorrow with Jesus and Mary provides a gentle healing grace~grace that so many need to be comforted.

 

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Christmas in June!

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“Love your family. Spend time, be kind & serve one another. Make no room for regrets. Tomorrow is not promised & today is short.”~Unknown

Simple words.  Love your family.  Spend time together.  Be Kind.  Serve one another.  No regrets. I find myself wishing for more time. More opportunities to be kind and to serve. This past year has brought the last sentence home~tomorrow is not promised and today is short. This quote is a call to joy.  A call to do more and be more and live and love more deeply! Some of us are separated by distance.  Some are separated by death.  Separation is painful but can become the very place where God’s light enters into our being.

Jordan’s discernment with the Sisters of Life is a geographical separation which has, perhaps, brought us spiritually even closer. I love that I am finding the specific blessings of Jordan’s vocation.  There is such truth in the adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  The Sisters of Life do not use social media~no texting, no Facebook, no tweets or twitters.  No emails.  Letters home about once a month.  Phone calls the same.  So…we have become a family of letter writers.  Imagine that~Pen and Paper and Stamps!!! There is such beauty in sending and receiving letters!  We are growing in the virtue of patience…(Only by force!)…as we await letter writing day each month.  We can write at any time so there is often a letter on the counter to take to the Post Office. Jordan has commented how meaningful each letter is~letters that would not have been written if all the other “easy” lines of communication were available.

With Jordan’s absence, it is now REAL that each of the children will one day leave. When the kids were little it was hard to believe this season of life would ever come. With  a six, 12, 13, and 18 year old still at home, I realize a lot of seasons are happening at the same time in our family. Such a blessing to move forward with the knowledge that NOW is our time to spend time together. To be kind.  To serve. To love. 

Seeing Jordan find her passion in life also reminds me that each of her siblings will find joy when they do what they are passionate about. This makes it necessary to look hard and sort out what brings happiness to each child.  True happiness~ not the fleeting kind our culture offers.

The countdown is on…11 days and Jordan will be home for a visit. It’s time to plant flowers, sweep the porch, prepare our home and our hearts for her return. It’s time to be kind.  To serve.  To make room for no regrets.   It’s time to love.

 

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OUR Bankrobbers!

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Who would believe it?  Our bank in Small Town Idaho was robbed!  In broad daylight!  Friday afternoon’s criminal activity provided opportunity for both discussion and speculation.  But, alas, the case wrapped up Sunday evening when the pair was caught sixty miles away in Lewiston.  The male robber, pictured above, was wearing a short that tells the true story, “It’s all fun & games until the cops show up.”  The irony of the t-shirt’s message actually caught the attention of the New York Daily news. In my mind, the event was over and would become, perhaps, the subject for passing commentary and a chuckle.  That was, until Tuesday morning Mass, when our hospital chaplain prayed the following beautiful prayer.  “For OUR bank robbers and for all who struggle, we pray to the Lord.”  As we responded, “Lord, hear our prayer,” I was taken aback.  These two nameless souls were suddenly OUR bank robbers.  They belong to the town of Cottonwood.  For some reason unknown to us, they had chosen our little town.  Now because of that choice, we had a stake in their lives and their souls.  Fr. Meinrad’s beautifully chosen words had announced to my heart and those around me that this pair need our prayers.  They need to be more than “the bank robbers”~they need to be real people. I immediately realized I hadn’t even taken time to listen for their names.  A quick google search to discover OUR bank robbers are Rocky and Jennifer from southern Idaho.  Rocky and Jennifer, our brother and sister in Christ.  Fr. Meinrad’s prayerhad transformed the robbers into real people~GASP!  They suddenly became someone’s son, someone’s daughter, part of our larger family~part of the body of Christ.  They are also part of the group Fr. Meinrad identified as “those who struggle.”  What would happen if each of us would pause and offer up a prayer for Rocky and Jennifer rather than just talking about them?  What kind of transformation will occur? Heavenly Father, I lift Rocky and Jennifer to you.  Thank you for the gift of their lives.  Thank you for blessing our small town with the opportunity to recognize the strugglers in our midst.  Thank you for the gift of Fr. Meinrad and for his vision of Rocky and Jennifer as belonging to “us.”  Bless them in their brokenness.  Forgive them their trespasses.  Heal them of past wounds.  Help them to begin anew. Help us always to remember to pray for them and for all who need our prayers.  Amen.

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Here in this Place

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“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” ― Walt Whitman  

Reminding myself of this as I look across the Camas Prairie, drinking coffee with Prince Charming.  This is happiness.  Here.  Now.  I all too often catch myself thinking of the past~wishing I could undo/redo certain things.  Be more present to the kids.  Spend more one on one time with each of them.  Take another vacation.  Be more kind.  I also find myself looking to the future.  Won’t summer be nice?  Won’t it be relaxing to be done with school?  Two more weeks until Jordan comes home.  But, really, life is about this hour and this place. If you are like me, you know this but it is hard to LIVE this.

So…for this hour, I am enjoying my time with the Prince.  Just being together.  Making little comments as we blog/work side by side.   Refilling the coffee cups.  Looking across the Prairie.  Listening to the birds chatting. Admiring the gorgeous yellow of the canola fields, the green alfalfa, the cloudless blue sky. This is happiness. A day we will not have together again. Not in this way. It is a beautiful thing to recognize the quiet togetherness we share. “Isn’t it nice out here?” the Prince asks.  Indeed it is~in this place~in this hour.

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Keep it simple…

ImageToday has been a beautiful day…it started early with Joe leaving on a business trip.  I settled down to the Internet with my cup of coffee and a heart full of enthusiasm.  It’s Monday!  The sun is shining.  The whole week lies ahead.  I have set a small goal of living in the moment. Truly living. Seeing the beauty around me. Clearing out the nonsense and focusing on what matters. I came across a quote from St. Teresa of Avila which I shared on my facebook status this morning~”The closer one approaches to God, the simpler one becomes.”  An intimidating quote in our busy, complex, and cluttered culture.  

So…now I have to figure out how to make this happen.  Breathe.  Live.  Pray.  Simplify. I’m going to start with Mass.  Listen to the Word.  Receive the Word made flesh.  Return home and try to be what I receive.  Praying for each of you.  Praying for myself.  It truly is time to slow down and embrace each moment.  Life is going by at a crazy speed. Praying God’s peace and joy and love on us all.

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